St Leonard, Bengeo, Hertfordshire
- Site Location
- National Grid Reference
- TL 330 136
now (or name of monument): St Leonard
- Type of building/monument
- Parish Church
II General Description
The church comprises an apsidal chancel, nave with W bellcote, and N porch. It is substantially 12thc., the timber bellcote is 19thc. and the brick N porch 18thc. The walls are coursed rubble.The plain, round-headed N (blocked) and S nave doorways are 12thc. The S doorway has chamfered imposts. Remains of three round-headed, splayed windows are found on the E, S and N walls of the chancel, and in the N wall of the nave. Romanesque sculpture is found on the chancel arch.
IV Interior Features
a. Apse/Chancel arches
(i) Chancel arch
Round-headed of one order. Plain on the E but with coursed nook shafts on the W. The lower half of the inner (N and S) faces of the jambs have been partially and clumsily cut away at some point to make room for church furnishings. The damaged bases (the L one is almost completely gone) were originally almost spherical with a torus. Above the nook shafts are carved capitals with necking and integral abaci. The stone used for the capitals may be Totternhoe Stone, a fine-grained, local clunch
L capital: voluted, the large, heavy spirals taking up much of the top half of each face. Below these are three incised bands or layers following the curve of the volutes. The capital has angle tuck and could be seen as a hybrid cushion capital. Possibly recut/replaced.
R capital: a simple human head, the (now broken) nose and mouth on the angle. A lenticular eye, and ear are visible on the W face, but the S face has been cut away to create a flat surface
The imposts are chamfered with a groove along the chamfer and extend to the E face of the arch.
The arch has a thick nook roll.
The manor of Bengeo was held by Hugh de Beauchamp at the time of DS, and it appears that Bermondsey Abbey held it toward the end of the 11thc. DS also records that a priest held land of Geoffrey de Bech in Bengeo. Geoffrey de Bech held the manor of Temple Chesin in Bengeo.
The church was granted to Bermondsey Abbey in 1159 by Henry II, a grant confirmed in 1272 by Richard de Tany. Bermondsey held the rectory and advowson until the Dissolution, although part of it may have been mortgaged.
VCH suggests that one of two roughly cut blocked doorways on the N wall of the chancel was the entrance to an anchorite's cell.
It is possible that the chancel, S capital may have been recut or renewed as the carving is exceptionally crisp.
- N. Pevsner and B. Cherry, The Buildings of England: Hertfordshire, Harmondsworth, 1953 (1977), 219-220.
- The Victoria County History: A History of the County of Hertford, London, 1908, 3:426.